Range Rover smoking exhaust
Reciprocating piston engines are by far the most common power source for land and water vehicles, including automobiles, motorcycles, ships and to a lesser extent, locomotives (some are electrical but most use Diesel engines45). Rotary engines of the Wankel design are used in some automobiles, aircraft and motorcycles.
Where very high power-to-weight ratios are required, internal combustion engines appear in the form of combustion turbines or Wankel engines. Powered aircraft typically uses an ICE which may be a reciprocating engine. Airplanes can instead use jet engines and helicopters can instead employ turboshafts; both of which are types of turbines. In addition to providing propulsion, airliners may employ a separate ICE as an auxiliary power unit. Wankel engines are fitted to many unmanned aerial vehicles.
Big Diesel generator used for backup power
Combined cycle power plant
ICEs drive some of the large electric generators that power electrical grids. They are found in the form of combustion turbines in combined cycle power plants with a typical electrical output in the range of 100 MW to 1 GW. The high temperature exhaust is used to boil and superheat water to run a steam turbine. Thus, the efficiency is higher because more energy is extracted from the fuel than what could be extracted by the combustion turbine alone. In combined cycle power plants efficiencies in the range of 50% to 60% are typical. In a smaller scale Diesel generators are used for backup power and for providing electrical power to areas not connected to an electric grid.
Small engines (usually 2?stroke gasoline engines) are a common power source for lawnmowers, string trimmers, chain saws, leafblowers, pressure washers, snowmobiles, jet skis, outboard motors, mopeds, and motorcycles.
Starting at TDC
Main article: 2-stroke engine
The defining characteristic of this kind of engine is that each piston completes a cycle every crankshaft revolution. The 4 processes of intake, compression, power and exhaust take place in only 2 strokes so that it is not possible to dedicate a stroke exclusively for each of them. Starting at TDC the cycle consist of:
Power: While the piston is descending the combustion gases perform work on it?as in a 4-stroke engine?. The same thermodynamic considerations about the expansion apply.
Scavenging: Around 75° of crankshaft rotation before BDC the exhaust valve or port opens, and blowdown occurs. Shortly thereafter the intake valve or transfer port opens. The incoming charge displaces the remaining combustion gases to the exhaust system and a part of the charge may enter the exhaust system as well. The piston reaches BDC and reverses direction. After the piston has traveled a short distance upwards into the cylinder the exhaust valve or port closes; shortly the intake valve or transfer port closes as well.
Compression: With both intake and exhaust closed the piston continues moving upwards compressing the charge and performing a work on it. As in the case of a 4-stroke engine, ignition starts just before the piston reaches TDC and the same consideration on the thermodynamics of the compression on the charge.
While a 4-stroke engine uses the piston as a positive displacement pump to accomplish scavenging taking 2 of the 4 strokes, a 2-stroke engine uses the last part of the power stroke and the first part of the compression stroke for combined intake and exhaust. The work required to displace the charge and exhaust gases comes from either the crankcase or a separate blower. For scavenging, expulsion of burned gas and entry of fresh mix, two main approaches are described: Loop scavenging, and Uniflow scavenging, SAE news published in the 2010s that 'Loop Scavenging' is better under any circumstance than Uniflow Scavenging.6
The cylinder head is attached to the engine block by numerous bolts or studs. It has several functions. The cylinder head seals the cylinders on the side opposite to the pistons; it contains short ducts (the ports) for intake and exhaust and the associated intake valves that open to let the cylinder be filled with fresh air and exhaust valves that open to allow the combustion gases to escape. However, 2-stroke crankcase scavenged engines connect the gas ports directly to the cylinder wall without poppet valves; the piston controls their opening and occlusion instead. The cylinder head also holds the spark plug in the case of spark ignition engines and the injector for engines that use direct injection. All CI engines use fuel injection, usually direct injection but some engines instead use indirect injection. SI engines can use a carburetor or fuel injection as port injection or direct injection. Most SI engines have a single spark plug per cylinder but some have 2. A head gasket prevents the gas from leaking between the cylinder head and the engine block. The opening and closing of the valves is controlled by one or several camshafts and springs?or in some engines?a desmodromic mechanism that uses no springs. The camshaft may press directly the stem of the valve or may act upon a rocker arm, again, either directly or through a pushrod.
Engine block seen from below. The cylinders, oil spray nozzle and half of the main bearings are clearly visible.
The crankcase is sealed at the bottom with a sump that collects the falling oil during normal operation to be cycled again. The cavity created between the cylinder block and the sump houses a crankshaft that converts the reciprocating motion of the pistons to rotational motion. The crankshaft is held in place relative to the engine block by main bearings, which allow it to rotate. Bulkheads in the crankcase form a half of every main bearing; the other half is a detachable cap. In some cases a single main bearing deck is used rather than several smaller caps. A connecting rod is connected to offset sections of the crankshaft (the crankpins) in one end and to the piston in the other end through the gudgeon pin and thus transfers the force and translates the reciprocating motion of the pistons to the circular motion of the crankshaft. The end of the connecting rod attached to the gudgeon pin is called its small end, and the other end, where it is connected to the crankshaft, the big end. The big end has a detachable half to allow assembly around the crankshaft. It is kept together to the connecting rod by removable bolts.
The cylinder head has an intake manifold and an exhaust manifold attached to the corresponding ports. The intake manifold connects to the air filter directly, or to a carburetor when one is present, which is then connected to the air filter. It distributes the air incoming from these devices to the individual cylinders. The exhaust manifold is the first component in the exhaust system. It collects the exhaust gases from the cylinders and drives it to the following component in the path. The exhaust system of an ICE may also include a catalytic converter and muffler. The final section in the path of the exhaust gases is the tailpipe.